Labor Day Special – An early look at the 2018 Kentucky Derby Class


September 3rd 2017 – Updated September 4th 2017 4 PM CST

The 2018 Kentucky Derby trail officially kicks off September 16th with the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. However tomorrow, we have a Labor Day special with two Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds in the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity. These two races will give us some insight on who the stars of next year’s Derby Trail class might be. I have a few on my radar already.

Copper Bullet

Currently, I am very high on the Steve Asmussen-trained colt named Copper Bullet who won the Saratoga Special Stakes (shown below). Same owner/trainer combination as Gun Runner. I first wrote about him back in June Unfortunately, it was announced yesterday that he will be sidelined due to shin issues and likely miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

I am also very high on three other horses: St Patrick’s Day, Run Away and Zatter.

St Patrick’s Day

The Bob Baffert-trained St Patrick’s Day is a full brother to American Pharoah. He broke his maiden yesterday at Del Mar (shown below)

Run Away

Owned by Kaleem Shah, trained by Simon Callaghan, the son of Run Away and Hide is a perfect 3-for-3 with his Best Pal Stakes victory (shown below). He’ll be a Labor Day runner in the Del Mar Futurity.


Owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert. The son of Midnight Lute defeated St. Patrick’s Day at Del Mar back on August 20th (shown below) which was the first career start for both colts. Zatter will face Run Away in the Del Mar Futurity.

Below are the post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and odds for the Hopeful Stakes and Del Mar Futurity:

The Hopeful Stakes  – 7 furlongs – Race #9 at Saratoga – Post-Time: 4:05 PM CST. Televised by Fox Sports 2 and TVG

1. Mojovation (118) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 2/1 
2. Oskar Blues (118) – Davis/McPeek – 10/1  
3. Firenze Fire (122) – Ortiz Jr/Servis – 7/2 
4. Psychoanalyze (118) – Franco/Lynch- 15/1
5. National Flag (118) – J.Ortiz/Pletcher – 9/2 
6. Sporting Chance (118) – Saez/Lukas – 8/1
7. Givemeaminit (116) – Rosario/Stewart – 10/1
8. Free Drop Billy (118) – Albarado/Romans – 4/1 

My Pick:  Mojovation is the fastest horse in this field. Free Drop Billy has the 2nd fastest closing speed but he was beaten by Firenze Fire in his last start. If you like a longer shot, Oskar Blues has already put up a decent time of 1:23.99 at this 7 furlong distance at Saratoga. I like a 1 with 3,8 Exacta and win/place/show bets on Mojovation.

The Del Mar Futurity  – 7 furlongs – Race #8 at Del Mar – Post-Time: 7:36 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Soul Streit (120) – Smith/Baffert – 4/1
2. Master Ruler (118) – Roman/Sadler – 20/1
3. Run Away (123) – Prat/Callaghan – 5/2
4. Tatters to Riches (120) – Baze/Mullins- 4/1
5. Fleetwood (118) – Desormeaux/Desormeaux – 20/1
6. Bolt d’Oro (120) – Nakatani/Ruis – 6/1
7. Gracida (120) – Espinoza/O’Neill – 12/1
8. Dia de Pago (118) – Gonzalez/Cerin – 12/1
9. Zatter (118) – Bejarano/Baffert – 7/2

My Pick: I think Run Away picks up his fourth win in four starts. Zatter will battle but I am concerned that he won’t be able to overcome his outside post-position. If you like longer shots, the Doug O’Neill-trained Gracida with Victor Espinoza on board could surprise and be a good show bet if his odds stay above 10/1.

On the Docket…

My next blog will likely be a Breeders’ Cup Contender ranking update followed by a preview of the Iroquois Stakes scheduled for September 16th at Churchill Downs. The Iroquois is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

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